interview: Tara Bhattacharya Reed

Tara Bhattacharya Reed

Tara Bhattacharya Reed is doing more than anyone else to solidify Austin’s experimental music credentials. As the curator behind Antumbrae Intermedia Events & Installations, Reed brings artists of worldwide renown to Austin’s city limits. They may not command the name recognition of the city’s more famous music festivals, but the artists she works with are pioneers in sound art, minimalism, contemporary classical composition, electronic experimentalism, avant-garde film, and other genres that resist easy categorization. We spoke with her about her work as a curator and a musician and how she plans to make her vision a reality.

 

How long have you been living in Austin?

TBR: I have been living in Austin for three years. Before that, I lived in New York City for more than a decade. I moved to study in New York when I was 22 years old from London, where I was born.

When did you start putting on events?

TBR: I started curating experimental music shows when I was 19 years old and have been doing it ever since.

Oh wow, that’s a pretty young age. What was the first event that you put together?

TBR: It was for legendary English guitar improviser Derek Bailey and Konk Pack (Roger Turner, Thomas Lehn and Tim Hodgkinson) at the October Gallery in London.

How did you get your start? What inspired you to host your own show?

TBR: I had been working for Derek Bailey’s Incus Records in my late teens. Karen Brookman and Derek Bailey ran Incus Records; Derek Bailey performed regularly when I first started working there. He would perform solo shows and group shows as well as curate and perform in his project Company Week, which was a recurring festival where he invited a variety of improvisors from all across the globe to play together. He was a great label boss, guitarist, and writer, and he brought the most terrific musicians together to play improvised music. He is an absolute inspiration. My mother is also a musician and a concert organizer of Indian classical and Tagorean music in London. I was always inspired by her energy and enthusiasm for curating shows.

Ah, so it runs in the family! I must say, though, I’m not familiar with Tagorean music. Can you tell me about it?

TBR: Rabindranath Tagore was a composer, playwright, poet and social activist in Bengal, India. He was outspoken against the prejudices of the caste system, which he addressed in his vast body of work and which also made him a very good example to all Bengalis. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1913. Tagorean music melds together classical Indian ragas, Bengali folk melodies, and Scottish, Irish, and English popular songs. His epic work is called Gitabitan and it is divided into thematic sections: worship. love, patriotism and nature. Many people follow his work from childhood. Tagorean music is very important to Bengalis in India, especially, and his works are still performed regularly today.

You have quite an extensive and unconventional musical background. Let’s talk about the series that you run, Antumbrae Intermedia Events & Installations. How long have you been doing it? And why the name Antumbrae?

TBR: I have been doing Antumbrae for a little bit more than two years now. I have two areas of interest in my curatorial practice: one is live performance and the other is sound installation. I am interested in interdisciplinary and time-based media plus the utilization of technologies old and new. I want to be able to investigate both live sound and installation rigorously with different types of artists. I am serious about sound and enjoy testing the parameters of what can and can’t be done with sound and technology.

The name came about because I am interested in astronomy, the play between light and darkness, positive and negative space and energy in both sound and visual realms and also the concept of phenomenology. When I was thinking about the title for the organization, I was reading The New Philosophy: The Science of Physical Phenomena, by Calvin Samuel Page. There is a passage written about tuning forks and the phenomena of wave motion by physicist John Tyndall:

“Thus it is possible, by adding the sound of one fork to that of another, to abolish the sounds of both. We have here a phenomenon which, above all others, characterizes wave-motion. It was this phenomenon, as manifested in optics, that led to the undulatory theory of light, the most cogent proof of that theory being based upon the fact that, by adding light to light, we may produce darkness, just as we can produce silence by adding sound to sound.”

An antumbra was my idea of a visual representation for this quote. The antumbra basically means that the moon is far enough away to appear entirely within the face of the sun; it is an annular eclipse. And I love dipthongs, so I made the title plural by adding an e.

Ah. I love that quote and the idea that it presents—I’ve never thought of sound and silence in that way. I also appreciate that you focus on intermedia—not multimedia, but intermedia, as defined by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins. Can you tell me more about the importance of the term, to you, and how it defines the work that you showcase?

TBR: The use of intermedia in the title is a homage to Experimental Intermedia in NYC. Experimental Intermedia was founded in 1968 by choreographer Elaine Summers, along with collaborators from the Judson Dance Theater, including Philip Corner, Trisha Brown and Phill Niblock—I invited Phill and his partner, Katherine Liberovskaya, to perform as part of the Antumbrae Intermedia Events series here in Austin. I have witnessed the greatest and most life-changing experimental music concerts in the world at Experimental Intermedia. I met Phill when I first moved to New York and assisted him at Experimental Intermedia in my 20s. I also went to Elaine’s kinetic awareness workshops. Phill and Elaine weren’t part of Fluxus but were active in the NYC downtown scene around the same time, so there was an overlap with their activities.

Elaine once said, “Intermedia is when you enter the image and get wrapped up in it. You become part of the image.” She used her own body as a projection screen for the early experimental cinematography of Phill’s. Experimental Intermedia’s programming included a diverse mix of sound, movement, and video/film. Each year, Experimental Intermedia celebrates winter solstice with an event featuring eight hours of video, film, and music, which I highly recommend going to if you are in New York.

Most programs and institutions consider Fluxus to be a historical movement confined to the ’60s and ’70s, but its influence remains widespread. Do you think that a movement like Fluxus would have relevance today, as an organization with a concrete identity?

TBR: Absolutely. Fluxus is still ahead of the game. The Fluxus movement was revolutionary in that it was anti-establishment, anti-art market and refused definition; artists wanted to make art for the masses and to challenge people’s perception of what art means. In actuality, there is more of a movement for artists to align themselves with museums and galleries and to define one’s work through academic language now more than ever. Antumbrae’s work is to explore the various possibilities of sound without strict definitions and scholarly interpretations. It is more about an exercise in effort, appreciation, and community.

Fluxus also wanted to change the history of the world, not just the history of art itself. The members of the Fluxus movement were playfully “experimenting” with ideas and using chance as the outcome. We have our own art movements today that have taken cues from Fluxus and happenings. I’m excited to see what activities come out of art collectives in the coming years. John Cage, who was part of Fluxus, for example, is an extremely important figure in the world of sound, and his ideas and teachings are still progressive and as impactful on the artists of today as I’m sure he was back in his time. His ideas on silence are totally essential in the field of sound and in the exercise of listening. John Cage also taught listeners that there is no difference between noise and music and that everyday sounds are on the same platform as a composed piece of music. He also utilized indeterminacy techniques, using elements of chance in composition and performance.

Fluxus put an emphasis on the live and performative, which is an important way to connect with a community of people. The best way for me to understand a person’s work is through live performance: for example, Alison Knowles’s Make a Salad (1962), where a group of people mixes a salad on stage, and then the audience eats it. Or Ben Patterson’s Paper Piece (1960), where instructions called for audience members to fold, rip, crumple and wave paper around freely. There was an inclusion of community participation and communal gesture rather than an exclusionary, elitist attitude.

Do I think that it is possible to have an art movement like that today? Yes and no. I think that due to new and accessible technology, the exchange of information across communities of people is easier than it’s ever been before. People have the ability to explore multiple medias in very creative and daring ways. However, having said that, I do see some visual arts communities as becoming too concerned with control and much more about the art market.

You do? How so?

TBR: I have seen the development of the art market in both the U.K. and U.S. and Asia since the late ’90s and early 2000s. I was there when Chelsea was transforming into a gallery hub, and I’ve seen East London change drastically since the late ’90s. With the advent of countless art fairs and blue chip galleries, I believe that the visual arts have become much more market-driven. Back in the ’90s, in England, it was much more about small DIY spaces and small collectives; the U.S. also had a similar aesthetic. I noticed things started to slowly change when the Sensation show took place at the Royal Academy, and then you had the rise of art stars like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. I believe that the DIY and collective mentality is here, and I think there will be a movement to make it even greater in the future.

John DuncanJohn Duncan

In some ways, it’s nice that the art world here in Austin exists almost entirely outside of the market, which is great for allowing people to explore new, totally uncommercial ideas, but I know it’s increasingly difficult for artists struggling to stay on top of rising rents… but that is a whole conversation unto itself. Let’s talk more about your work. Antumbrae Intermedia aims to promote “sound art and technology.” Do you feel there is a distinction between sound art and experimental music, and if so, can you tell me about it?

TBR: I am in agreement with Douglas Kahn when he says that he is not fond of the term sound art; he prefers a more generic term, sound in the arts. He says the term came into use in the 1980s, even though there were many artists doing work with sound earlier than that and not defining it as sound art. Kahn goes on to say that none of the minimalist composers liked the term minimalism, but they were willing to put up with it, whereas the situationists disliked the term situationism, but were also very stringent about the use of language. Kahn says that most artists use sound through an assortment of different kinds of materials, experiences, concepts, visual, auditory and tactile expressions. I liken this to be the case with many artists in Austin today who are coming to sound from a variety of disciplines. As Kahn observed, many artists who have been using sound for a long time would rather just be called artists rather than sound artists, and this has been my experience, too, whilst talking to older artists in New York. Nowadays, younger artists market themselves as sound artists or use the term out of convenience, which even I myself am guilty of using at times. Kahn says sound itself isolates understanding and that it is more useful to treat it holistically—as part of the arts as a whole. This is where I think people like Phill Niblock and Elaine Summers were so effective in their outcome and programming of Experimental Intermedia.

But to explain experimental music and sound art quite plainly, experimental music questions institutionalized musical composition and performance, whereas sound art focuses on the medium of sound and its history, whether it be noise, music, silence, acoustics, found sounds, installation or social or political contexts. An experimental piece that comes to mind is “Variations for Double-Bass,” by Ben Patterson, where a solo performer was asked to excite the strings of the double-bass with a comb and corrugated cardboard. Then, to further reverse the role of the traditional use of the bass, it was balanced upside-down. A good example of sound art, meanwhile, is Alison Knowles’s “The Bean Sequences,” a piece in which the sound of beans in ceramics, glasses, and human mouths becomes music.

New discourse and thought on sound art and sonic rhetoric are currently evolving throughout communities of writers and artistic practitioners across the globe today. Some of my favorite writers on sound include Eddie Prévost, David Toop, Brandon LaBelle, Christopher Cox, Daniela Cascella, Cynthia Selfe, Michael Nyman, Cheryl Ball and Byron Hawk, Salomé Voegelin, Bump Halbritter, Michel Chion, Jeff Rice, Thomas Rickert, Jon Stone and Steph Ceraso.

How do you go about choosing the artists that you invite to perform at your events?

TBR: Listening is a very important activity to me. It is a very simple process: I usually select artists after I have seen them perform live, if they make me think about sound in a new way. I respond very strongly to live performances by artists, and if I like what they are doing I will invite them.

Many of the artists you’ve invited tend to be older—folks who have been working for decades. Ken Jacobs, Robert Turman, John Duncan. Do you plan to feature younger artists in future shows, or do you focus exclusively on older, more established performers?

TBR: Bringing established artists is as important as inviting artists developing their language and craft. I find established artists with a long history of practice making new work very exciting and inspiring to experience. I do invite younger artists and artists from all across Texas. With installation work, especially, younger folk are doing very cutting edge work, and I hope to invite more younger generations of people from a variety of cultural backgrounds in the future.

Steve ParkerSteve Parker, in collaboration with Ken Jacobs’s Nervous Magic Lantern

How do you feel about the diversity of these artists? For example, I don’t often see women artists working in these fields.

TBR: There are many women who are practicing the above not just across the world but right here in Texas. Women have always been at the forefront of sound art and experimental music. The lack of diversity is a problem, but women have been present from the beginning. I am inspired by people like Pauline Oliveros, Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, Suzanne Ciani, Else Marie Pade and Christina Kubisch—these are women who are pioneers that made work way ahead of its time.

Yes, that’s true. I guess I just don’t see very many here in Austin. Although you are one! Can you tell us more about your musical background?

TBR: My background is in Indian vocal classical music, and I played Western classical piano and flute until I was 17 years old. A year later, I became interested in British improvisation, namely Derek Bailey, and Keith Rowe in AMM, and of course John Cage and Phill Niblock. I abandoned my knowledge of written music and started experimenting with sounds, field recordings, graphic scores, musique concrète and electronics. I started playing analogue synthesizer around four years ago, when I met my husband Rick Reed, who has been playing synth since 1981. I find the synth to be a very intuitive instrument, and that’s why I like it.

Intuitive for you, maybe… [laughing]. Who are some of the artists that you hope to feature in the coming year?

TBR: For live performances, I am currently organizing an event for Arnold Dreyblatt, who is an American artist and composer living in Berlin since the ’80s. He studied music with Pauline Oliveros, La Monte Young, and Alvin Lucier and studied media arts with Steina and Woody Vasulka. He invents new and original instruments and develops his own unique performance techniques, and he has created his own system of tuning. His compositions are based on intonation and played through a bowing technique especially created for his modified bass and modified instruments.

I first came across Arnold Dreyblatt & The Orchestra of Excited Strings’ Animal Magnetism in the late ’90s. My sister and I sent him a letter after hearing it, and he wrote back and told us about this amazing book, On the Sensations of Tone, by Hermann Helmholtz—it’s about acoustics and the perception of sound. It’ll be great to see what he does in Austin.

I will also work with percussionist Jason Kahn and then, later on in the year, with legendary experimental music collective L.A.F.M.S. [Los Angeles Free Music Society] members in Marfa and next year here in Austin. Also, I’ll be working with Adi Newton from Clock DVA on a performance. There will be an open call for artists to apply to the sound installation series. I have many people on my wish-list for live performances, but I like to surprise audiences with artists and don’t always reveal them beforehand. For live performances, I have invited people who are very well established who may have visited in the past but whom I have never invited before. For the installations, I will be reviewing applications from artists who may be lesser-known but are doing great work. I aim to encourage people who apply to the sound gallery to make work that changes the way people think about sound.

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Women have always been at the forefront of sound art and experimental music… I am inspired by people like Pauline Oliveros, Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, Suzanne Ciani, Else Marie Pade and Christina Kubisch—these are women who are pioneers that made work way ahead of its time.

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Are there any Austin-based artists that you hope to work with?

TBR: I’ve worked with a number of Austin artists on Antumbrae’s series and my own personal musical projects including Tina Forbis, Henna Chou, Chris Cones, Steve Parker, Lee Dockery, Thor and Friends, Sarah Norris, Lisa Cameron and Raquel Bell. Also, Alex Keller, Sean O’Neill, Brent Fariss, Sheffield/ Rippie and Limited Hangout. I hope to work with Lauren Gurgiolo, Vanessa Rossetto (now living in New York), Sarah Hennies (now living in Ithaca) and Jen Hill, among many others.

What sort of consideration do you give to the spaces that you use?

TBR: I work with traditional venues for the live concerts. A space with good acoustics and a high ceiling is ideal, in my opinion, for sound installations. I’m also trying to scout outdoor venues for site-specific installations and also warehouses and abandoned buildings, which I find inspiring and challenging. I would like the installations and performances to break free from a boxed, traditional format. Ideally, I would like more installations to be in public places like airports, shops, office lobbies, hospitals, post offices and outdoor spots like parks, gardens, and lakes, etc.

How neat. I love experiencing music in unconventional environments. I saw Lucky Dragons conduct an outdoor performance in the woods behind [Austin art gallery] Laguna Gloria a couple years back—musicians were interspersed throughout the grounds, and as you wandered through the trees, different instruments and melodies would fade in and out. It was magical, like fairytale forest music.

TBR: I adore Lucky Dragons, and I also went to that sound installation. Laguna Gloria is a very magical place. The Texas wildlife and countryside are quite enchanting, too, and I hope that at some point we can do more projects outdoors and explore acoustic ecology and the environment.

You mentioned a sound gallery earlier. What is a sound gallery, exactly? Your website says that you are in the process of starting one.

TBR: The sound gallery will be an immersive sound environment dedicated to sound art with multi-channel surround sound. It will be a contemplative space where people are free to sit, stand, or lay down in the space and experience resonant sound fields. This may be accompanied by light, film/video, or a live performer interacting with the sounds in the space. The Dream House in New York City was my initial model for the sound installation gallery. Dream House was started in 1993 by La Monte Young and visual artist Marian Zazeela. The project is 40 years of their work together. Zazeela says that sound and light can be experienced as a new form or new media: the sound and light environment. What is interesting to me is that she says the experience of the two mediums requires a special kind of attention, an attention that is outside of our normal everyday attention spans, which are so short nowadays. When I’ve been to the Dream House, time would stand still and your senses become acutely attuned to the sound and light environment. As you move around the space, and even tilt your head slightly, you are likely to hear pitch changes within a fluctuating wall of drone. To me, this experience was unlike anything else, and I want people to come to my gallery with fresh new eyes and ears and enjoy fully engaging with it as much as I did being in the Dream House.

That sounds really exciting. Have you looked at any potential spaces for it, and do you have a time frame for when you hope to open?

TBR: There were two iterations of it last year. More like a dry run—people were very enthusiastic about it. I will be concentrating more on it this year starting from late spring. It will be a monthly sound gallery at First Street Studio until I can find a more permanent space. The gallery will be open one night a month, and the installation will run continuously from six pm to 12 pm. Artists will be asked to contribute a live piece during the run of their installation. They can choose live projections, performance art, dance, spoken word performance or a live music performance, for example. Audience members can enter and leave the space freely. They are invited to stand, sit, or lay down on the floor with cushions.

How else do you see Antumbrae growing in the future? Are there other types of performances that you hope to feature that you have not yet been able to?

TBR: I see Antumbrae growing through the implementation of the sound art gallery. I would especially like to invite younger generations of artists and more artists of color to participate in the sound gallery, and artists from all over the globe, including Asia and Africa. I would also like to start an electronic music festival similar to Sónar in Barcelona and have the opportunity to present sound installations in outdoor public spaces in Texas.

Kjell BjørgeengenKjell Bjørgeengen

Are there any new technologies that you are excited about, that you see as creating space for groundbreaking new art forms or experiences?

TBR: I really love both analogue and digital technology. New field recorders/Zoom recorders are always exciting. New recording programs and older ones including MaxMSP, Pro Tools, and Logic are very useful to know, even though Ableton has made life very convenient. In the interactive arts, bodysuits are a very exciting development. My sister Bishi, who is a musician, has been wearing one designed by Oscar Sol. Other technology and bits and pieces that interest me are old and new modular synthesizers, 3D printers, loopers, new pedals, contact microphones, wireless speakers, sine-wave generators, oscillators, magnetic tape, modular motion detectors, new headphones, the latest surround sound, Arduino, and openFrameworks. I am also very proud to say there are great circuit benders and modular synthesizer craftsmen that live in Austin!

There definitely are. Tell me more about your sister. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone perform with a bodysuit.

TBR: My sister did a performance piece called Call of the Tiger, commissioned by the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, and was an invocation of the Hindu deity Kali. It featured her performing in a live interactive bodysuit designed by Oscar Sol. There were sensors on her hands and her feet, which triggered the visuals and the audio simultaneously. Bishi is a musician, artist, and composer, and she infuses Eastern and Western classical music with folk and electronics. She also runs WITCiH: Women in Technology Creative Industries Hub, a platform to celebrate Women in the Arts and STEM.

That sounds so cool. You should have her come perform with Antumbrae.

TBR: I would love for my sister to perform as part of the Antumbrae Intermedia installation series. I’d also like to invite my mother. I’ve had this desire to make a sound installation piece deconstructing Tagore’s music and traditional instrumentation and making it into an electronic composition using analog and digital technology, then having my sister and my mother perform live vocals as part of the installation. Tagore’s work needs to be re-contextualized for the 21st century!

I would love to see that. Speaking of re-contextualization, you said that you work with analog and digital technology. Can you tell me more about how you integrate old technology with new?

TBR: I like using both analog and digital. Analog represents the history of technology and has a different sound and feel to digital technology. Digital technology represents the future. For example, when I record compositions, I use my analog synth and sine-wave oscillators, and then edit or embellish sounds with digital programs. Using both expands the parameters of experimenting with sound.

I also enjoy obsolete technology. Dumb Type, which started in the 1980s, is one of my favorite multimedia art collectives. Teiji Furuhashi was the founder of Dumb Type; he passed away in 1995 from an AIDS-related illness. They have a show featuring two decades’ worth of archived technology and materials at MOMA in NYC. The piece is called Lovers and has been revived by the remaining artists in Dumb Type and a small group of engineers and conservationists. Obsolete technology, post-phenomenological studies, and glitch art are of interest to me. It’s interesting to fully explore and digest the creative use of older or malfunctioning technology. Older technology can be taken apart and then re-assembled and re-purposed with new potential for meaning. The point of view of Antumbrae is not for people to use the newest technology, but also old technology and technology that is accessible to make work. I do not believe in current trends in technology as being the sole answer—rather, the past has a lot to teach us, especially when it comes to creating new things. Archiving, conserving, and repurposing technology is an important practice.

Who are some of the artists working today that you are most excited about?

TBR: I am influenced by the audio works of Marc Fell and Gábor Lázár, Florian Hecker, Jana Winderen, France Jobin, Haroon Mirza and Susan Philipsz. There is also a great scene for sound artists in Montreal, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition, I recommend checking out Emptyset’s Signal record, and the visuals and sound of Carsten Nicolai, who is a genius. Others I recommend include U.S. artist Mark Bain’s “Transducing Resonant Architecture” experiments; Bill Coleman and Gordon Monahan’s Dollhouse for body and sound; Anne Wellmer’s green piece / memory maze: a composition for viola, feedback waves, laptop and light; and Brooklyn’s Tristan Perich’s works for 1-Bit electronics, where he uses simple electronics to create musical compositions. Also, in terms of video-scores, I recommend Yannis Kyriakides’s Oneiricon.

An artnet article recently declared that sound art is “having a moment,” and it featured a list of 12 artists to watch, many if not all of whom hail from outside the U.S. Do you feel sound art is more influential abroad, and if so, why?

TBR: There is a very strong history of audio-related artists and audio works in the U.S.—take, for example, Bill Viola, Bruce Nauman, Max Neuhaus, Pauline Oliveros, Maryanne Amacher, Laurie Spiegel and Annea Lockwood. They are all older generations of American artists who were pioneers, and their legacy paves the way for younger artists in the U.S. to create new and exciting works.

I think that the funding structure outside the U.S. is different, and people don’t always hold down day jobs to be an artist or have to be part-time artists. The ideal situation for artists is when they can dedicate all their time and energy to making work. There are brilliant artists in the U.S. who work extremely hard. You have to do your own research to find out what’s happening in sound. There is a pretty great scene for experimental music and sound art; there are countless festivals, groups, collectives, ensembles, curators and individual artists in the United States working and experimenting with sound. I am proud to be a part of this. Even though I don’t believe you have to go to school to be a practitioner of experimental music and sound art, American universities such as Mills College and Wellesley College have been churning out very many promising artists over the last few decades.

Tara Bhattacharya Reed

There are entire institutions dedicated to sound art abroad—from the Sound Art Museum in Rome to the SOLO Music Gallery in Amsterdam. Does anything like this exist in the U.S. that you know of?

TBR: I worked for three in New York City: Engine 27, Diapason Gallery, and La Monte Young’s Dream HouseDream House is the only one left out of those three. There are too few dedicated sound spaces in the world, although there are more site-specific installations in different locations, pop-up sound projects, and sound pieces appearing in permanent collections in arts institutions and universities, which is great for exposure and education in sound and experimental music.

Do you think sound art is having a moment?

TBR: Yes, sound art is having a moment. I was very privileged to have attended the previous Venice Biennale and witnessed Camille Norment’s Rapture in the Nordic Pavilion. When I started working for sound galleries over a decade ago, it was much more of a specialized medium; it is now no longer secondary to the visual arts. A definite turning point was when Susan Philipsz won the Turner Prize for her sound installation in 2010. Contemporary artists practice in more interdisciplinary ways and take into consideration sound as an important component. Audiences are more curious about abstract forms of art, especially sound. Traditional institutions are incorporating sound works into their collections, which helps to reach new audiences. For example, there is a great new show starting this spring at the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston called Listen Hear: The Art of Sound, featuring installations inside and around the neighborhood of the museum. There is greater conversation about sound through communities throughout the world thanks to the Internet and new writing exploring sound.

I am also very excited about the future and future discourse on sound and technology/ecology/environment, etc., which I am open to exploring in the installation gallery. When Lawrence English was here, he gave a workshop on field recording and played a beautiful piece of music he recorded in Antarctica. I am also an avid listener of Chris Watson’s work. Chris Watson was a member of Cabaret Voltaire and a sound recordist specializing in natural history. And I’m a big fan of ASMR projects and healing through sound. ASMR videos are all the rage on the Net!

More people have access to technology and recording devices and can use it creatively. There is so much to do and so much to discover, and I think people are very open to that. Pop culture has also appropriated sound art and experimental music, and I think that this exposure is great.

You think so? I think of it as existing very outside of pop culture.

TBR: I think that hip-hop is the most radical and creative music out there in pop culture. Dance and hip-hop artists and producers have a strong tendency to sample many different kinds of music and have done so throughout the music’s history. A lot of hip-hop and dance producers move into the purely pop sphere and experiment with sounds within a traditional pop format. Recently, I have noticed a trend in hip-hop and pop music using atonal music, found sounds, spoken-word samples, erratically timed breakbeats, slowing down music or speeding sounds up and silence. It is terribly exciting to see what future artists will do. It’s rather avant-garde to me.

 

Interview by Sean Redmond.
Photography by Michael Reust.